Coaching Association of Canada

Fluids and Foods DURING Training/Competition

During exercise, nutrition provides:

  • Energy;
  • Physical comfort; absence of hunger;
  • Mental focus for best technique and skill execution.


  • Optimal fluid and electrolyte intake;
  • Carbohydrate to maintain blood glucose.


  • To prevent excessive dehydration;
  • To prevent excessive changes in electrolyte balance;
  • To avoid drinking more fluid than needed to replace sweat loss;
  • To ensure energy to train or compete.

Fluid needs vary with your sweat rate, sport, and environment (temperature, humidity, altitude). Monitor your body weight changes during training and competition sessions to estimate sweat loss.

To find out how much is optimal and comfortable, test the amount and type of fluid and food in training – never during competition!

DURING exercise

  • Drink freely from 0.4–0.8 Litres per hour;
  • Drink more on days when you train harder;
  • Drink more during hot, humid weather;
  • Drink some fluid when training in cold weather;
  • When training or competing for more than an hour, consume some carbohydrate (e.g. a sport drink or snacks).

Carbohydrate beverages: For sessions longer than an hour, carbohydrate helps maintain focus, technique, and energy. Aim for 0.7 g carbohydrate per kg body weight per hour (about 30–60 g carbohydrate per hour), taken at 15–20 minute intervals.

The recommended beverage for optimal fluid absorption during exercise has 40–80 g carbohydrate/L and 0.5–0.7 g sodium/L. 

  • Sport drinks provide water, carbohydrates, (40–80 g/L) and electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium);
  • Fruit juice (100–160 g/L carbohydrate) needs to be diluted by half for rapid absorption and sufficient hydration during exercise;
  • Energy drinks and soft drinks are too concentrated for rapid absorption and will slow rehydration during exercise.

You can make your own sport drink by mixing
(One litre = 54 g (5.4%) carbohydrate and 0.5–0.7 g sodium):

  • 500 mL unsweetened orange juice
  • 500 mL water
  • 1.5 mL salt

Salt: Sport drinks contain salt (sodium), which is helpful for athletes training or competing for several hours and consuming large amounts of fluid.

CONVERSION: 250 mL = 1 cup = 8 oz.

DURING EXERCISE – Focus on Fluid and Carbohydrate

Water is an effective fluid replacement drink for short (less than one hour) exercise sessions.

Athletes consume more when the fluid:

  • Is easy to access (right beside them).
  • Is a flavour they like.
  • Is chilled (about 10 degrees C).
  • Has sodium added (0.5–0.7 g/L enhances flavour and thirst).

Snack ideas DURING prolonged exercise

For training sessions lasting several hours and during competition, emphasize fluid and carbohydrate- rich snacks during rest breaks. The amount you consume will vary according to the amount of time available between the snack and the next bout of exercise. Allow time for digestion.

During exercise or for short exercise breaks (less than 1 hour):

  • Diluted fruit juice or a sport drink;
  • Fruit (dried, fresh, canned, or pureed);
  • Bread, pretzels, or crackers and vegetable juice;
  • Cereal, sport, or energy bars;
  • Arrowroot, fig, oatmeal, or similar low-fat cookies;
  • Plain or chocolate milk or meal replacement beverage;
  • Fruit yogurt or fruit smoothie.

For a longer break in exercise (1 to 2 hours):

  • Juice and a bagel with peanut butter;
  • Yogurt, fruit, and water;
  • Vegetable juice and a lean meat sandwich;
  • Fruit, cookies, and chocolate milk.

For a small meal between practices or events (about 3 hour break):

  • Fruit, cereal, and milk;
  • Fruit, vegetable soup, lean meat sandwich and milk;
  • Steamed vegetables, juice, rice, chicken or fish, yogurt.

Avoid bacterial contamination of meals and snacks. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Bacteria reproduce quickly at room temperature.

During short breaks between exercise sessions, choose foods that are higher in carbohydrate and lower in protein, fibre and fat. This will allow for quick digestion and absorption of fluid and carbohydrate into the body, helping prepare you for the next bout of exercise.

Plan ahead and be prepared. Carry snack items, or know where you can buy them.


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